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A red-winged blackbird perches on a cattail near Clark Canyon Reservoir south of Dillon.

The red-winged blackbird is the most common blackbird found in Montana. The gregarious species nest and roost in wetlands. Red-winged blackbirds are frequently seen in cattail marsh and brushy wooded areas near water around the Gallatin Valley.

Red-winged blackbirds feed primarily on insects and seeds found in open fields. The birds will often gather in large flocks and can be seen taking off and landing as they forage.

Male red-winged blackbirds have distinct red coverts on their shoulder, often accompanied by yellow feathers. The remainder of their plumage is black. Female red-wings have a reddish throat and streaked body with brown stripes. Female red-wings are easily confused with sparrows, so look for their relatively larger size, thin bill and rufous-edged feathers to identify.

During the spring, red-winged blackbirds can often be observed calling at Cherry River Fishing Access Site off North 7th Avenue in Bozeman. As the spring migration progresses, the red-wings are accompanied by yellow-headed blackbirds and various other species of songbirds.

—Ben Pierce, Chronicle Outdoors Editor